Long Reef and Dee Why Lagoon, Sydney's northern beaches - 7 Feb

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Long Reef and Dee Why Lagoon, Sydney's northern beaches - 7 Feb
From: "Tom and Mandy Wilson" <>
Date: Sun, 7 Feb 2010 21:26:46 +1100
Hi all
given the easing of the conditions this afternoon after a very wet and wild Saturday afternoon, evening and night in my part of northern Sydney, I decided to see what was about at Long Reef, even if with the rising tide I was not able to get out to the end. I spent from 2:15 to 4:15pm doing a seawatch and checking out the birds roosting on the reef itself, and when it wasn't drizzling, the air was very clear. Highlights were:
- 1 Bullers Shearwater seen in close to reef approx 3pm.
- 1 adult Sooty Tern seen flying north about 100 metres out from the reef (very black back & nape/cap)
- A pair of Arctic Jaeger made regular passes in both directions.
- 6 Little Penguin seen fishing in the surf break to the north of the reef, mixed in with 2 surfers. (I've only seen Penguin fishing at Long Reef once before). My attention was originally drawn by a cloud of Crested Terns, when I noticed several small black shapes in the waves. - On the reef itself were at least 6 Little Tern (not a species I think I have ever seen at Long Reef before), some of which started fishing in the shallow water as the tide flowed in.
- A Caspian Tern flew in from Dee Why direction
- 1 Eastern Curlew on the beach.
- Plenty of Red Necked Stints (my count 100+), some starting to colour up, some Golden Plover and 2 Sharp Tailed Sandpipers, 8 Sooty Oystercatchers, Grey Tailed Tattler and Ruddy Turnstones. The RN Stint on the beach were doing Sanderling impersonations - running in and out with the waves but they were all Stints as far as I could see - none were plain grey enough and certainly none were noticeably bigger.

There were plenty of darker Shearwaters about, and quite a flew Fluttering types and a few Gannets too. One bird had me stumped, which I saw a bit further out, a grey and white petrel - it seemed to show a white head and tail and dark wings when seen "above" and all white when seen from "underneath" - could this possibly be a White Headed Petrel, although I note that this species should show dark underwings. A White Necked Petrel was reported a few days ago from Mistral point, but the bird I saw had no discernible cap on its head and, as noted showed a very pale tail when seen dorsally.

From Long Reef, I moved on briefly to look at Dee Why Lagoon, which is
currently pretty empty as the sand bar has been breached and the lagoon has drained. It is now holding a Silver Gull convention (400+!) However, there were single Bar Tailed Godwit, Eastern Curlew (assume the I assume the one I had seen earlier at Long Reef as it took off towards Dee Why) and a Royal Spoonbill and Australasian Shoveler in a muddy stream at the Dee Why end. (As the Caspian Tern at Long Reef flew in from the lagoon direction, it could be spending time at both sites?)

The Godwit, as well as showing a good barred tail, had a very black nape, which I observed as it allowed quite a close approach. Is this a field mark or common to all Godwits or a peculiarity for this bird?

Tom Wilson

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